‘Bah Humbug’ From HCC – Hybu Cig Cymru

09 Jan

I’ve just finished talking to a butcher and of course we were putting ‘the Welsh food world to rights’ as you do, but I was astonished to hear that HCC, Hybu Cig Cymru, had not arranged any Christmas promotions for the individual butchers that are working hard, against the supermarkets, to supply local people with local Welsh meat. As I write this I’m furious that this has happened and wished I’m known about this well before Christmas so I could have rattled some cages, before this marketing opportunity had been lost for ever.  

Although the Welsh Government appears to ‘think’ I know little about the Welsh food industry, I do know the media, and I do know about PR & Marketing. Plus you don’t have to be the ‘Brain of Wales’ to know that Christmas time is a peak sales opportunity to sell meat! So if we agree on this, then what were HCC doing ignoring this peak promotion period?

In case you are not aware of HCC:       

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is the organisation responsible for the development, promotion and marketing of Welsh red meat. We work with all sectors of the Welsh red meat industry – from the farmers through to the retailers, to develop the industry itself as well as develop profitable markets for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

HCC is of course funded by Wag and comes under Wag (Food) portfolio.

This latest instance shows that although HCC are charged with promoting and marketing Welsh red meat, it appears that individual butchers are, for some reason, not a priority. But why not? Even HCC, cocooned in their large, posh glass office, must realise that local butchers are struggling to survive. But as the strangle hold of supermarkets gets even tighter, what do HCC do to help – a big fat nothing.   

So come on HCC, explain your ‘Bah Humbug’ attitude to the local butchers, including our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers that you are paid to help……………………………..



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  1. Listener

    January 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    HCC also are supposed to promote Welsh pork. When you take an animal to slaughter a premium is charged to promote the resulting meat. The main promotion of pork was done through BPEX but WAG decided to do this in house, cutting Welsh pork producers off from any promotion BPEX may do (recipe leaflets, posters etc). Unfortunately, as not that many pigs are slaughtered in Wales, compared to England, the money only covers a full time post in HCC and leaves nothing over for promotion. Good thinking there WAG!
    I have never seen HCC at any event, promoting local meat to local people. That would be a start!

  2. admin

    January 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    As I took the notes of what HCC are supposed to be doing, from their very own website this morning – isn’t is odd that pork isn’t mentioned?
    I think you are proving once more that Wag are not only out of touch with food producers, but to dump BPEX without thinking this through and of course not talking to the very people their decision will effect, proves that the longer we go on, Wag learn nothing.
    Well the only places I have seen HCC is at the Royal Welsh

    Welsh Country magazine has been talking to HCC and their Cardiff based PR company for the last 7 years, but have not made any progress, apart from their PR company saying WE are too passionate about Welsh food………………..which was later denied. But can you believe anyone saying that to a Welsh foodie magazine that’s trying to help them do their job?
    Wouldn’t a Welsh meat recipe in each issue of Welsh Country magazine be good promotion and easy to do?
    Wouldn’t HCC press releases on our website be good promotion too?
    Wouldn’t advertorial about what is happening in Wesh meat industury be useful?
    Wouldn’t showcasing local butchers in each issue show some pro-active marketing?
    I’ll stop there in case readers are getting bored, but HCC – through Wag have a lot of questions to answer and the meat industry needs answers now!

  3. Alan Morris

    January 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    HCC has been contacted by several butchers and stakeholders involved in the red meat industry who are concerned about the large number of inaccuracies in your blog, entitled, ‘Bah Humbug’ from HCC, and which was apparently based on a conversation with one butcher. The blog claimed that HCC had done nothing to promote Welsh meat in the run-up to Christmas.
    For your information, here are the facts.
    1. HCC ran an extensive television advertising campaign for Welsh Beef which ran on ITV1 and S4C between December 1st and 18th
    2. HCC produced special Christmas recipe leaflets for both Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb, which were distributed to independent butchers who sell Protected Geographical Indication Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef. Each butcher received approximately 150 of these bilingual leaflets before Christmas.
    3. Large posters advertising Welsh Beef for Christmas were located in strategically important locations across Wales in December.
    4. Independent butchers have received meat cuts posters and other promotional material, including seasonal recipe booklets, from HCC throughout the year.
    5. HCC has produced a booklet containing the results of a survey examining consumer attitudes to lamb. This booklet has been distributed to independent butchers as part of our efforts to help them increase sales.
    6. HCC is not funded by the Welsh Government. HCC is funded through a levy collected from farmers and processors at the point of slaughter in Welsh abattoirs.
    7. Welsh Country Magazine is aware of the activities undertaken by HCC to promote Welsh red meat – including the Christmas promotional work – because the publication receives all press releases issued by the company.
    I trust that you will correct the inaccuracies in your report.

    Alan Morris
    Communications Manager
    Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales

  4. admin

    January 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I am absolutely delighted that within five hours, you have been in receipt of several butchers talking to you after reading my post about HCC. I’m so pleased that some butchers have nothing else to do on a Monday afternoon but read welshfoodbites. PLease pass on my thanks to them as this really helps my rankings!
    I am happy to approve your comment in full but I will not alter what you class as inaccuracies in my post, as the comments came from one of your independent butchers, who is entitled to his opinion. Why would he say he’s had no promtioanl literatrue from you if he had? Just what would be the point? He actually brought up HCC in the conversation in the first instance because HCC is not a topic that we raise with our producers, there is no reason for us to talk about HCC, why would we?
    Why didn’t he get the bilingual leaflets that you say were distributed to independent butchers?
    Why didn’t he or I for that matter, see any of the ‘LARGE posters that were placved in strategically important locations across Wales? ‘
    Where were these sited? I hope not by large supermarkets. ….
    The issue of this post was Christmas, not what HCC have or have not done throughout the year. This butcher does not think HCC has done a good job for him and others in his situation. So do you really expect me to ignore his comments in case I upset HCC? It’s so much easier though to ignore one butcher than one supermarket. Shoot the messenger Alan if that makes you feel better, but would it not be sensible to have a promotional re-think? Or maybe ‘my’ butchers views will be ignored – because it’s only one butcher. If I am doing a piece for Welsh Country magazine I would ring other butchers and get their views, but for the purpose of my blog, I haven’t got the time to do a ring around.
    Are you saying HCC do not report and have no connection at all with the Welsh Government|? Because the view out there in the big Welsh world – whether you wish to believe it or not – is that the WG is still pulling HCC strings.
    As already posted we have tried and tried to work with HCC for the last seven years. We have spent years and years and years talking to HCC and to your PR company and made no progress. You very kindly send through Press Releases to me, but you are well aware because we discussed this at the Winter Fair, that if HCC are not prepared to work with Welsh Country magazine, for reasons you know better than I do, than I will not promote HCC for free.

    Why not give me more facts?
    How many butchers did actually get your promotional material?
    How many butchers found your promotional material useful?
    How much of of it did they use and how much went in the bin? You’ll get extra points if you can prove you got honest answers to that one from all your independent butchers .
    How many butchers saw HCC’s LARGE posters?
    Do butchers feel a TV campaign boosts sales that wouldn’t have been there anyway over Christmas? Again extra points for honest answers ……………….
    You haven’t replied to the comment left about pork from a producer. Or was I just being sloppy in not finding pork mentioned on the front page of your website.

  5. Butcher Girl

    January 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I am an independent butcher. I actually rang HCC asking for a cutting chart for Pork that I know they produced. I was told I could have one if another butcher returned theirs – of course I did not get one, as who would go to the expense of posting an unwanted poster back? I have seen the poster in another butchers, who was disappointed that it was so different from the beef and lamb poster that it did not make the shop look good.
    If you type in Pork in the search bar, it gives you some results, most of which are a few years old…and of course, the average GB market price for pork has never been available on the front page.
    Meanwhile, I pay every week through the abattoir for promotion which I do not get. Maybe this is not illegal, but it is certainly not right!

  6. admin

    January 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Thank you so much for putting up your comment – again on the pork problem.
    I am not at all happy that you have been given such short shrift by HCC to sending you a poster…………how many of these were produced by HCC and where did they go?
    As you produce pork why didn’t you get one sent to you?
    If HCC is responsible for pork then surely it should be mentioned of the front page of their website and not down to you to search for it – if you have to do this is ‘Joe Public ‘ going to make that effort? I think not.
    I think it should be illegal that you pay for promotion every week through the abbatoir and then are obviously not getting that vital promotion and marketing that you need.
    After reading HCC’s response, it appeared that HCC think they are doing a great job for Welsh butchers, but it is certainly not what I am being told.
    Pity they can’t talk to butchers of all sizes of businesses and actually find out what they need and want.
    I’m sure I might be able to guess your answer to this, but would emailing or writing to HCC rather than ringing be more useful in providing an explanation?
    HCC do have responsibilities to this industry and I’m here to help

  7. Meat man

    January 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for putting up this on HCC and being straight allowing so many comments to go up too.
    Like many others we are grateful for your support.
    How typical of HCC, so quick to defend their position but slow as the proverbial snail when it comes to helping independent butchers like me and others who have raised problems with them. What about the pork problem? They’ve ignored that of course. Ignore it and it will go away. Cowards. We pay you and should be treated with respect.

    If HCC spent less time patting themselves on the back instead of helping us with the huge problems we are facing, this industry would be easier.

    Large posters, big deal where are they? Retail parks?
    Lots of literature, but which butchers did that go to?
    TV campaign, how much did that cost?
    How many people saw it? How many can recall it? And how many people were motivated enough to go into a small butcher on their High street and buy WELSH MEAT?

    I think HCC did the TV adverts to support the supermarkets. Supermarkets have and always will be HCC’s priority.

    I hadn’t realised Kath that you’d have not had support from HCC. Last night I looked through some copies – and saw nothing in from them. Now why does that not surprise me?
    Wales has Welsh Country, as a quite posh magazine with lots and lots of quality food food pages, but where’s HCC and where’s the Welsh Government pushing food? Not to be seen. Is this the proof we need that both these don’t understand the markets they are looking after? Or is it just their lack of actually understanding marketing and promotion for Welsh food?
    I really don’t understand HCC or Wag but then never had. I thought they’d be striving to work with you on so many types of things, but you know you are supposed to bow down to these big-head people and of course many of us know that you should never say that they are doing anything wrong, heaven forbid!!! You have to say what THEY want to hear and then you get awards, large grants, invited to events and in your case you’d get advertising support. That is how our food industry works and it’s a sad state of affairs.
    I think you’re brave to keep challenging them. I know you are doing it for all food producers and know how much support Welsh Country has out there.
    I’d like this year to be the one HCC and WG realised the work you are doing, grew up and worked with your team.
    I’ll ring now because I think you should rattle cages in Cardiff
    I’m going to ring you to get the full story on HCC.

  8. MeatMan2

    January 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I’ve read Meat Man’s comments and I agree with him totally.
    HCC and Wag’s attitude to welsh country is puzzling. I thought they’d be over the mon to have a glossy, interesting magazine not only promoting Wales but promoting Welsh food, they’re work and effort on food should have been regonised and awarded but it’s clear why this has not happenened. Golden Welsh rule, don’t knock those who run the awards, even if it only on a blog. Still not sure why you don’t now put much of this blog in the magazine. I don’t know if HCC and wag are suffering from arrogance, stupidity or feel that with their power, they can just bully and carry on getting away with doing just as THEY think fit.
    HCC were very quick to defend their postion, but I’d love their reasoning on why welsh country could not be more effective than LARGE posters in strategic important locations? Why havent you worked with them so there’s a Welsh meat recipe dish in every copy? If that’s obvious to me a meat man, why has it not hit your well paid marketing people between the eyes? Too difficult for them? They often run 4 recipes in there and my wife always cooks at least two each time.
    Who made the decision on these important locations?
    Why doesn’t Mr Morris tell us where they were placed? Because I never saw one. So that now makes 3 of us that need glasses or should have visited retail parks. There wasn’t one in my High Street, but Mr Morris has already made his point that my High Street wouldn’t be classed as HCC ‘important’.
    That is HCC’s largest problem, they don’t look after their local butchers and have no idea what we need in terms of marketing or promotion.
    How dare you tell that pork person they’ll have to wait for a poster to be returned as you have none left? How many were ordered and where did they go?
    Why didn’t this person get one? Bad management, lack of care from HCC? Let HCC focus their effors on another trip to China, the Far East or somewhere else warm for a good break.
    HCC’s rudeness and unhelpfulness to the pork person staggers me beyond words. Return the money they’ve paid you because you’re not working for them. HCC are like Dick Turpin but without the mask.

    Meat sales up or meat sales down, it doesn’t make any difference to your pay packet does it?
    You’ll still be able to afford your mortagage and holidays, but we don’t have that certainly and security.

    Why didn’t this person WHO PAYS YOU not get a poster?
    Which idiot is going to return a poster they don’t need instead of dumping it in a bin?
    You have not even responded to that one, have you Mr Morris?
    Improve quickly, or we’ll look to change things ourselves.

  9. admin

    January 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you so much for your comment and your support.
    If we hear again from HCC there commnets will be put up in full and not edited by me.
    I have so far resisted putting articles in WCM that tell the truth, as I see it, about what actually is happening in Welsh food.
    Some producers are keen for me to do this as they believe it will be a way to change things which is not happening so far.
    I’ll get more views and then look at things again.

  10. meat lady

    January 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    It’s annoying that HCC have the same arrogant attitude to their local butchers as Wag have to food producers ………’you guys are one of the main reasons we have a job, but we’ll do our best to ignore you!’
    I’m not sure why it is allowed to go on this way but a union would turn it around.
    HCC should not try to dismiss the original post, or whatever it is called, but instead look at their Xmas campaign see what went wrong and fix it. You can’t have butchers saying they didn’t get promo mail when they should have had it. Find out what did go wrong, issue an apology and fix the problems that have been highlighted.
    We are fed up of ‘food things’ being swept under the carpet, just admit your mistakes and grow-up.
    I am not surprised there has been no further comment about pork, because Wales cares even less about pork people, than it does about food producers and local butchers and that is saying something.